Combat Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse

addiction can happen to anyone, any family, at any time

For help: Call 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) Text HOPENY (Short Code: 467369) Visit www.oasas.ny.gov/accesshelp

For help call 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369) Text HOPENY (Short Code: 467369) Visit www.oasas.ny.gov/accesshelp

Governor Cuomo's Task Force to Combat Heroin

About the Task Force

In efforts to end the heroin and opioid crisis in New York, Governor Cuomo announced the launch of a statewide Heroin Task Force. The group, comprised of healthcare providers, policy advocates, educators, parents and New Yorkers in recovery, will build on the state’s previous efforts and use their expertise and first-hand experience to develop a comprehensive action plan to combat the state’s opioid epidemic. The Task Force will focus immediately on expanding awareness of heroin opioid addiction; enhance statewide prevention efforts; increase access to treatment; and improve support for those in recovery. 

Heroin Task Force Members

Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor, co-chair of the New York State Heroin Task Force

Lieutenant Governor Hochul chairs New York’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils, the State Workforce Development Board and co-chairs the Community College Councils. Lieutenant Governor Hocuhl spearheaded Governor Cuomo’s Enough is Enough campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses and was also named to the NYS Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission. She has served as Erie County Clerk and as a Hamburg Town Councilmember. As a member of Congress, she served on the Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, focusing on job creation, skills training and creating opportunities for returning veterans. As an attorney on Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s staff, she was part of the working group that proposed language for the $1.4 billion anti-drug bill designed to combat drug use nationwide.

Arlene González-Sánchez, Commissioner of New York State’s Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, co-chair of the New York State Heroin Task Force

Commissioner González-Sánchez oversees OASAS, one of the nation’s premier addiction services systems, with more than 1,600 programs that serve over 100,000 New Yorkers daily. Ms. González-Sánchez has more than 30 years of experience in the field of behavioral health administration, policy development, medical research, and extensive expertise in integrating accessible systems of care for New Yorkers. Under her leadership, OASAS is committed to providing quality care for the estimated 2.5 million New Yorkers who struggle with an addiction through a core system of prevention, treatment, and recovery services. 

Maria T. Vullo, Acting Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services

Ms. Vullo has more than 25 years of experience in business litigation and investigations. Her expertise includes matters involving securities and other fraud, real estate, health care, insurance, tax, consumer protection, bankruptcy, antitrust, constitutional and environmental law. For 20 years, Ms. Vullo was a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Prior to that, she oversaw the Economic Justice Division in the Office of the New York State Attorney General.

Dr. Howard Zucker, Commissioner of the New York Department of Health

Dr. Zucker is a physician with extensive national and international public policy experience. Before joining the Department in 2013, Dr. Zucker was a professor of Clinical Anesthesiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. He previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health, where he developed the nation’s Medical Reserve Corps, which today is run by the U.S. Surgeon General. Dr. Zucker has also served as Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization. He is board-certified in five specialties and subspecialties and trained at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Children’s Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School.

Joshua Vinciguerra, Directorof New York State’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement at the Department of Health

Mr. Vinciguerra is a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York. Most recently, he served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted felony crimes in the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and in the Frauds Bureau. He has also served as an Assistant Attorney General in the New York State Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau. Mr. Vinciguerra is a volunteer firefighter.

Michael Green, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services

Mr. Green has 25 years of experience as a prosecutor. From 2004-2011, he served as Monroe County District Attorney. Previously, he served as an Assistant District Attorney for 17 years, including three years as First Assistant District Attorney where he was responsible for homicide prosecutions in Monroe County. He has also served as Capital Crimes Prosecutor, Deputy Chief of the Major Felony Bureau, Chief of the DWI Bureau, and trial attorney in the Major Felony Bureau. 

Lt. Colonel Frank Koehler, Assistant Deputy Superintendent, New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation

Colonel Koehler has been a member of the State Police for over 30 years. During his tenure he has risen through the ranks and currently oversees BCI operations for more than 1,000 members of the Investigative Branch of the Division of State Police assigned to stations and special details across New York, including the statewide narcotics enforcement unit. Colonel Koehler holds a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Marist College and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Tino Hernandez, Presidentand CEO Samaritan Village

Mr. Hernandez oversees Samaritan Village, one of the largest non-profit providers of community-based substance abuse treatment services in New York State. Serving more than 28,000 people each year, the agency has evolved into a nationally-recognized organization providing comprehensive health and human services through a network of more than 40 facilities in New York City and upstate New York. Mr. Hernandez currently serves on the Governor’s Behavioral Health Services Advisory Council and is President of the Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies.

Daniel Raymond, Policy Director of the Harm Reduction Coalition

Mr. Raymond has nearly twenty years of experience in the field of harm reduction, including direct service in syringe access and advocacy for drug user health and Hepatitis C treatment access. HRC is a national advocacy and capacity-building organization that promotes the health and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by drug use. Mr. Raymond is a frequent speaker on issues involving drug user health, policy, harm reduction, and innovations in Hepatitis C and HIV prevention and treatment.

Patrice Wallace-Moore, CEO of Arms Acres, Inc.

Mr. Wallace-Moore is responsible for the management and oversight of Arms of Acres in Putnam County which provides inpatient treatment for those suffering from addiction to alcohol and/or substances. She is also the Vice President of Substance Abuse Services at Liberty Behavioral Management, which manages Arms Acres and Conifer Park, Inc. At Arms Acres, Ms. Wallace-Moore's staff has trained local citizens in the use of naloxone to prevent fatal heroin overdoses. 

Chas. Bennett Brack, Peer/Family Support Specialist with UnitedHealth Care

Mr. Brack has been actively involved with human rights organizations including Men of All Colors Together, NY – an anti-racism organization – and the New York City Commission on Human Rights, in the Lesbian and Gay Discrimination Documentation Project/AIDS Discrimination Unit. Mr. Brach has also worked at The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, as a producer of their weekly AIDS information television magazine, Living with AIDS. Prior to that, he worked at Third World Newsreel, while distributing and touring with his directorial debut, Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project. Mr. Brack studied documentary arts at Antioch College, graduating with a degree in cultural and interdisciplinary arts.

Michael McMahon, Staten Island District Attorney

Mr. McMahon has more than 30 years of experience as a practicing trial attorney, appearing in courts at all levels throughout New York State. In 1993, he opened his own law firm on Staten Island, which he managed for fifteen years before being elected to Congress. In 2015, after being elected Staten Island District Attorney, Mr. McMahon made it a priority to address the significant challenges facing Staten Island as the epicenter of the heroin and prescription drug crisis. In this role, Mr. McMahon led the takedowns of over a dozen drug dealers on Staten Island, restructured resources and staff within the office to better coordinate leadership between the Narcotics Bureau, Investigations Bureau, and Crime Strategies Unit, and created the City’s first and only Overdose Response Initiative. In addition to these efforts, Mr. McMahon continues to lead efforts to increase awareness on the heroin and opioid crisis through education presentations made to local schools and at community meetings. Mr. McMahon is a graduate of New York University and New York Law School. 

Adrienne Abbate, Executive Director of the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness

Throughout her career in the public health sector, Ms. Abbate has been a prominent advocate for substance abuse prevention and treatment. She is currently the Project Director of the Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA), a cross sector coalition aimed at leveraging the power of collective impact to improve health outcomes for Staten Island youth. Ms. Abbate has worked to educate the community through town hall meetings and workshops, advance prevention initiatives for youth, and to build capacity of community partners to address Staten Island’s drug epidemic.

Kym Laube, Executive Director of Human Understanding & Growth Services

Ms. Laube is a nationally-recognized leader on prevention and oversees HUGS, a nonprofit alcohol and drug prevention agency that provides high-quality education programs for youth in Long Island. HUGS also facilitates the Long Island Teen Institute, a comprehensive 48-hour training held on Shelter Island, NY, four times annually. 

Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, President and CEO of Family and Children's Association

Mr. Reynolds oversees FCA – one of Long Island’s largest health and human services organizations offering community-based programs for struggling families, at-risk adolescents, vulnerable seniors, and adults challenged by substance abuse. From 2009-2014, Dr. Reynolds served as Executive Director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Prior, he spent 19 years at the Long Island Association for AIDS Care. Dr. Reynolds chaired the Suffolk County Heroin/Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel, is on the Executive Committee of the Nassau County Heroin Prevention Task Force, and serves as co-chair of Suffolk County’s Sober Home Oversight Board. Dr. Reynolds has served on the NYS AIDS Advisory Council since 1994.

Anne Constantino, President and CEO for the Horizon Corporations

Ms. Constantino is responsible for the development and implementation of strategic and annual operating plans for Horizon Health Services, Horizon Village, and the Health Management Group. Horizon, established in 1975, is the largest provider of treatment and recovery services for individuals with mental health and/or substance use disorders in Western New York. Ms. Constantino is a member of several New York State provider groups, and the National Council on Community Behavioral Health.

Cortney Lovell, Director of WRise Consulting

Ms. Lovell oversees consulting services for WRise, a woman-owned strategic consulting company specializing in addiction, mental health, wellness and recovery. She has consulted for corporate businesses, federal agencies, and national and state organizations on substance use prevention, recovery capacity, youth engagement and leadership. Prior to founding WRise Consulting, Ms. Lovell worked with Friends of Recovery – New York as the Director of Recovery Education and Training. She volunteered with Young People in Recovery before working as Young People in Recovery’s National Chapter Director.

Susan Salomone, Executive Director of Drug Crisis in Our Backyard

Ms. Salomone co-founded “Drug Crisis in Our Backyard” in 2012, after her son Justin tragically died from a heroin overdose. The organization is dedicated to promoting awareness of drug abuse in communities, bringing recognition of drug addiction as a neurological disease, helping individuals and families find resources, and advancing solutions to limit over-prescribing. 

Patrick Seche, Director of Services in Addiction Psychiatry Division, Associate Clinical Administrator in the Department of Psychiatry and Associate Faculty member at the University of Rochester Medical Center

Mr. Seche has nearly twenty years of experience in the field of addiction treatment. He has worked for a diverse group of organizations in different capacities, including The Health Association's MainQuest Treatment Center and Baden Street Settlement, a not-for-profit organization working to improve families, education and health and reduce crime and violence in Rochester. In his current role, he oversees two outpatient substance use disorder clinics and the integration of addiction services throughout the University of Rochester Medicine system.

Dr. Jerald Woolfolk, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at the State University of New York at Oswego

Mr. Woolfolk began work at SUNY Oswego in 2014 after working at Mississippi Valley State University and the CUNY College of Staten Island. He has filled several roles at universities primarily focused on student affairs and has supported efforts to combat opioid addiction on campus. Mr. Woolfolk has a Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education from Jackson State University.

Thomas O'Brien, Superintendent of Roxbury Central School District

Prior to serving as Superintendent, Mr. O’Brien was a Principal at Roxbury Central Schools. In addition to his work as Superintendent, Mr. O’Brien is an EMT with the Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department, a member of the Ski Patrol at Belleayre Mountain, the EMS Coordinator at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, and a Board Member at the Margaretville Hospital. He also serves as a board member the New York State Rural Schools Association, and a member of the NYSCOSS Legislative Committee and the New York Safe Schools Task Force.

Senator Terrence Murphy

Dr. Terrance Murphy represents the 40th district of New York, which includes parts of Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties. Prior to the serving in the Senate, Dr. Murphy served in the Yorktown Town Board since 2009. A lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley, Dr. Murphy is a small business owner and manages a chiropractic practice.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal represents the 67th district of New York, which includes the Upper West Side and parts of Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan. Prior to serving in the Assembly, Ms. Rosenthal served for 13 years as Manhattan District Director and Director of Special Projects for Congressman Jerrold Nadler. She is a lifelong resident of the Upper West Side.

Listening Tour

Members of the task force will hold public listening sessions across New York to share their knowledge and make recommendations. More information on the listening tour, including dates and locations, will be available soon.

Aggressive Reforms to Combat Heroin

Since 2014, Governor Cuomo has implemented a series of aggressive reforms to combat heroin and opioid addiction, including:

  • Signing the historic Combat Heroin Legislation which has expanded insurance coverage for substance use disorder treatment; increased access to treatment and expanded opioid treatment services
  • Launch of a public awareness and prevention campaign which inform New Yorkers on the dangers of opioid use
  • New regulations to I-STOP law which requires all prescriptions to be transmitted electronically from the prescriber directly to the pharmacy
  • Sharing prescription drug data with New Jersey through the Prescription Monitoring Program to further prevent the stockpiling and resale of dangerous controlled substances
  • Increasing the availability and accessibility of nalaxone in pharmacies allowing pharmicists to dispense naloxone without a prescription
  • Training first responders and community members to recognize and respond to overdoses